Kayaker rescued near Little Bridge

A kayaker was rescued near Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs. —Hayley Duffy

Oak Bluffs emergency crews rescued a kayaker whose boat had flipped in frigid waters and who had stopped breathing Friday morning, 

Oak Bluffs Fire Chief Nelson Wirtz told The Times that emergency responders were dispatched for a call about an overturned vessel. 

“We had very little information right at the initial call,” Wirtz said. The call came in at 10:58 am and Wirtz said it was initially uncertain what kind of vessel was overturned, so the fire department’s rescue boat was also sent out. 

It turned out a kayaker, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket, had flipped over near Little Bridge. Wirtz said a fellow kayaker turned around to help, but the individual in the overturned boat was not breathing by the time they were pulled from the water. The companion kayaker was able to bring the person in the overturned boat back to shore, according to Wirtz. 

Donovan McElligatt, Oak Bluffs shellfish constable, responded to the scene after he received a call over his radio. When he arrived, the two kayakers were already on shore, and one wasn’t breathing. McElligatt started CPR with the help of a bystander until the OB EMS arrived and took over compressions.

McElligatt said the kayakers put their boats in the water  near the Little Bridge between Sengekontacket Pond and the open ocean. 

“They launched on the outside part of the bridge towards the open ocean,” McElligatt said. “I believe the conditions were too rough.”

Wirtz said the injured kayaker arrived at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital by 11:27 am for post-submersion and post-cardiac arrest care. 

Per department protocol, Wirtz said they were required to stay and perform “good quality CPR” for individuals who experienced cardiac arrest since it was the best way to help them before heading to the hospital. 

From the call to arriving at the hospital, it took 29 minutes. 

“That’s really fast,” Wirtz said. He said the patient was awake and chatting with the EMS crew when they arrived at the emergency room. 

Wirtz declined to release further information regarding the individuals involved in the incident. 

Other emergency departments who responded to the scene included Oak Bluffs Police and ambulance crews from Tisbury and Edgartown.


  1. A miracle! Please wear life-saving jackets when out on water. Thank you to all those who responded and saved this person’s life! ❤️

  2. I am the kayaker who was rescued. I just wanted to thank all those who helped save my life—the shellfish officer, the Oak Bluffs police officers, the EMTs, the nurses and doctors at Edgartown Hospital, and my friend I was paddling with. Everyone knew exactly what to do, and did it quickly and capably. I cannot express how grateful I am. Thank you all! (p.s., I want to point out that I was wearing a life jacket.)

Comments are closed.